Barbara’s rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: Amory Ames #1
Publication Date: 10/14/14
Number of Pages: 336
I purchased this book because I first read the 7th book in the series, A Deception at Thornecrest, and very much disliked the character, Milo. That book was supposed to be after the playboy Milo had reformed and settled down, so I wanted to see the beginning – I am NOT a fan of reading of infidelity. Yes, I understand this is supposed to be a historical mystery – but I need a good romance along with my mystery and I just have a really hard time understanding why our female lead, Amory, would continue to put up with the stuff Milo dishes out. I was looking for some grand scene where a contrite Milo would realize the error of his ways and beg for forgiveness. Well, it didn’t happen. NEVER was there an apology – at least not from Milo – Amory made a couple of apologies for not believing him when he told her something.
The series is touted as a being witty and clever – a fun romp as in the Nick and Nora Charles style from the old movies. I didn’t see the slightest sign of any of the wit and humor found in those old movies and there certainly wasn’t any evidence of the love and respect Nick and Nora had for each other. As a child who grew up on those old movies, I can assure you that Nora wouldn’t have put up with Milo’s crap for 5 minutes much less 5 years. The series is set in the 1930s, but the only thing in this book that really evokes that era is the descriptions of the clothing – especially Amory’s. Those descriptions seem limitless and in the most minute detail.
To make matters worse for me, I listened to the audio version of the book. It may not be the worst narration I’ve ever listened to, but it is close. The narrator’s voice range seemed very limited. There just wasn’t any flow or smoothness to the delivery. It was as if the narrator was slowly reading the words for the first time – it was stilted and emphasis was placed on words that wouldn’t have been emphasized. If you saw the movie, Galaxy Quest, just picture the aliens in that movie delivering the narration to this novel. On the brighter side, I did notice that this is the only book narrated by this artist – there is a different narrator for the rest of the books. That is certainly a good move on the publisher’s part.
The mystery was well done with lots of red herrings to throw you off the scent. I did suspect who the villain was almost as soon as I met them on the page, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the rest of the investigation – because – well – I could have been wrong.
Believe it or not, I will be reading the second book in the series, Death Wears a Mask, because I do want to see if there is any repentance on Milo’s part. The writing and story development have definitely improved by the 7th book in the series, so I’ll be interested in where the next book goes.